Friday, August 22, 2014

What are Principles of Design?

Principles of Design
Principles of Design

Principles of design popularly known as “Principles of Visual Art” are the applied guidelines used to organize the structural elements of design. Principles of Design essentially serve as a medium of expressing a value judgment about a composition or a piece of art. Principles of Design when successfully combined with the elements of design allow the designers to create 
esthetic work of art. Broadly speaking Principles of Design can be categorized into six major heads namely:
  1.  Balance
  2. Contrast
  3. Emphasis
  4. Pattern
  5. Rhythm/Movement
  6. Unity  
Now let us discuss all the principles of design in details:  



Balance as a principle of design refers to the rational arrangement of objects in a design so as to form an impression of visual equality both in weight and importance. Typically balance provides structure and stability to a design. Balance can be symmetrical (evenly balanced) or asymmetrical (un-evenly balanced).

  1. Symmetrical Balance is often referred to as formal balance in visual images. Balance is formal when both sides are equal  or in proportion in terms of arrangement.
  2. Asymmetrical Balance is often referred to as informal balance in visual images. Balance is considered as informal when sides are not exactly symmetrical; however the resultant image is still balanced. Essentially asymmetrical balance is more dynamic than formal balance

image contrast


Contrast as a principle of design refers to the juxtaposition of opposing elements of design (for example: rough & smooth textures, dark & light values) in order to bring out differences or to create visual interest, or a focal point. Contrast allows the designers to highlight key elements in their design.



Emphasis literally means to give importance. Emphasis as a
principle of design refers to giving special importance to one
or certain part of work. The goal is to grab the attention of 
the audience in one go. Emphasis in an image can be achieved through contrast, placement, size, color, repetition, etc.For example: A dark shape in a light composition. 


Pattern as a principle of design may be defined as regular arrangement of repeated elements i.e. line, shape, colors over and over again. Pattern usually increases the visual excitement by supplementing surface interest. For example: One can use curved lines all around in a design as a pattern.

Rhythm/ Movement
Rhythm or Movement as a principle of design is often referred to as a beat or visual temp. Rhythm is the regular repetitions of the elements like colors, shapes, values, lines, forms, textures etc. so as to produce a feel and look of a movement. Infact rhythm & movement work together to create an impact of visual parallel of a musical beat.  Rhythm can be categorized as Random, Regular, Progressive, Flowing and Alternating


Unity as a principle of design may be defined as the appropriate arrangement of elements of a visual to give the viewers a feeling that all the parts of the design are in harmony as a whole composition. By harmony we mean all sections of the pattern, words & images make other section feel complete. Unity as a designing principle gives a sense of oneness to a visual image.


Principles of Design described here are balance, rhythm, contrast, pattern, emphasis, and unity are of utmost importance in any design or work of art. In-fact they forms the essential designing principles. These principles of design along-with the designing elements serve as basic knowledge and analytical framework for the designers. I hope it would be helpful for the readers.

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